• 1. What is the SHIFT Architecture Challenge?

    The SHIFT Architecture Challenge is a new Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) program for highlighting architects’ distinct contribution to addressing key societal issues. It invites Ontario architects and their teams to respond to an identified area of concern. The program runs biennially (i.e. 2019, 2021, 2023) and has a different theme each year, beginning with the SHIFT 2019 Infrastructure/Architecture Challenge.

    2. What is the theme for 2019?

    The inaugural theme is “infrastructure,” but this means far more than transportation and utilities. It can include anything from water systems, housing, hospitals and electrical grids to planning regulations, definitions of family, immigration laws and the status of First Nations, Inuit and Metis. It encompasses the foundational aspects of society, profoundly structuring and governing our daily lives. Unfortunately, the disconnects between our modern demands and our existing infrastructure systems can create fundamental gaps in experience, accessibility, safety and quality of life.

    The OAA challenges the architecture profession to examine the realities of physical infrastructure and organizational structures/processes (policies, people, ideas and communities) and propose new ways to understand, create or support infrastructure that links our communities. Click here for some examples.

    3. Why should I take part?

    This program enables the architectural profession to be viewed by the public in a new light and reflects the capacity for design thinking to permeate all aspects of life.

    Those selected will be part of exhibits, presentations, publications and a public awareness campaign, beginning with a special session at the 2019 OAA Annual Conference in Quebec City this May 22-24.

    4. Who can participate?

    While submissions by teams of individuals—either emerging or established—from diverse professional backgrounds are encouraged, the team lead (i.e. spokesperson) must be an OAA member. This includes:

    • architects;
    • retired architects;
    • Licensed Technologists OAA;
    • non-practising architects;
    • intern architects; and
    • student associates.

    Other team members may include those from the design community and beyond, like community activists, politicians, subject matter experts or institutional representatives.

    The SHIFT Infrastructure/Architecture Challenge is not open to current members of the OAA Council, Awards Steering Committee and SHIFT Task Group, or practices in which these individuals are owners, principals, associates and/or employees.

  • 5. What do I need to do?

    Submissions include three main components:

    • text outlining an infrastructure issue and how architectural thinking can address the topic (maximum 5000 words);
    • supporting images (maximum of 14 visuals, drawings and/or photos); and
    • video providing an overview of the submission (maximum length of three minutes).

    6. How are selections made?

    Submissions will be evaluated for their ability to capture the public imagination and inspire new ways of thinking. The jury will review the submissions for clarity, excellence and quality of presentation in regard to five main criteria: innovation, social responsibility, inspiration, inclusivity and holistic approach.

    7. Who selects the SHIFT submissions?

    The jury will include a diverse mix of professionals, ranging from practitioners and academics to students, policy-makers and subject matter experts that reflect diversity with respect to gender, geographical location within Ontario and age.

    8. When is the deadline?

    The deadline for all submissions is January 18, 2019.

    9. What happens if my submission is chosen?

    With the goal of increasing public dialogue, the chosen submissions will form the basis for a broader conversation on the issue promoted by the OAA, including exhibits, presentations and publications.

    This includes a print/web publication intended for broad distribution and complementing travelling exhibit that launches in May 2019 at the OAA Annual Conference. Opportunities for media interviews, blogs and publications will be assessed, as will targeting specific audiences and engaging in social community issues where the SHIFT ideas are applicable.

    10. Does SHIFT replace the OAA Design Excellence Awards?

    No, the SHIFT Architecture Challenge does not eliminate the Design Excellence Awards—in fact, in many ways, it can complement them. SHIFT will take place in ‘odd-numbered’ years (i.e. 2019, 2021, 2023), while Design Excellence will be celebrated in ‘even-numbered’ years (i.e. 2018, 2020, 2022). For more information on this awards program, click here.

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